Eric S. Raymond is a software developer and advocate of the open source software movement. He wrote a seminal paper called The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which explained why open processes are more effective than top down ones. He has been studying the code used by the scientists at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, whose work raised serious questions about the quality of the research being used to underpin the proposed $1 trillion Cap’n Trade bill stalled in Congress. Here’s what Eric found in the computer code:
From the CRU code file osborn-tree6/briffa_sep98_d.pro , used to prepare a graph purported to be of Northern Hemisphere temperatures and reconstructions.
; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,'Oooops!'
This, people, is blatant data-cooking, with no pretense otherwise. It flattens a period of warm temperatures in the 1940s — see those negative coefficients? Then, later on, it applies a positive multiplier so you get a nice dramatic hockey stick at the end of the century.
All you apologists weakly protesting that this is research business as usual and there are plausible explanations for everything in the emails? Sackcloth and ashes time for you. This isn’t just a smoking gun, it’s a siege cannon with the barrel still hot.
My emphasis added at the end. This is going to get much worse for the scientists who have been discovered manipulating data to achieve the desired results.
Meanwhile a well respected economist at George Mason University, Robin D. Hanson, says it’s not so unusual for scientists to try to exclude others from their playground:
Joel Achenbach comments:
This is not a scandal so much as a window on real scientists working on a politicized issue. … “Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person.” I agree. But isn’t it also true that Newtons antipathy towards Hooke and his use of his position in control of the Royal Society, ensured that the concept of an achromatic lens for a telescope … had to wait until after [Newton’s] death.
Yup, this behavior has long been typical when academics form competing groups, whether the public hears about such groups or not. If you knew how academia worked, this news would not surprise you nor change your opinions on global warming. I’ve never done this stuff, and I’d like to think I wouldn’t, but that is cheap talk since I haven’t had the opportunity. This works as a “scandal” only because of academia’s overly idealistic public image.
It is a shame that academia works this way, and an academia where this stuff didn’t happen would probably be more accurate. But even our flawed academic consensus is usually more accurate than its contrarians, and it is hard to find reliable cheap indicators saying when contrarians are more likely to be right.
If you don’t like this state of affairs join me in trying to develop a more reliable consensus mechanism on such topics: prediction markets. It just takes time or money. Prefer instead to act shocked, just shocked, when the other side is shown to do this stuff, while reserving your side’s ability to do the same? Then I have little respect for you.
Prediction markets require people to put their money on the most likely outcome of an event, such as the chance of passing health care reform before 12/31/2009, now sitting at 2%. If you are so damn sure the earth is warming, put your money into the technology that will resolve the issues. If you’re not, then shut up. Unless you’re AlGore, in which case just shut up.